Finally found something to be nervous about...
So this weekend I'm going to my family reunion for the first time in about six years. I'm bringing my fiance Andrew, and one of my partners, Lady, with me. Now my dad's side of the family as far as I can tell is at least partly pretty old fashioned with a lot of stock in the Christian faith. My parents both know I'm poly, and my partners both come to most family functions at their house, but none of my dad's family knows. The immediate family on his side has met my fiance this past thanksgiving, but polyamory has never come up and I honestly don't know how they will react. My extended family who will all be at the reunion, haven't even had a chance to meet my fiance before, or really any romantic interest of mine.
Now, a bit of backstory, I've been with Andrew about five years. I've been with Lady for almost two, and he is part of our family. He and Andrew are very close although not romantically involved, and we do a lot of things all together as a group. My family is also from West Virginia, where Lady lived a lot of her life, although they are from an entirely different area as far as I can tell. Still, my dad's side of the family reminds me very much of his family, and I know she would get along famously with them.
So I'm very nervous about how they will react to polyamory in general, as well as to me being poly and soon to be married, and to the fact that Lady is about fifteen years my senior. I do have several good reasons I want to bring these two of my partners though. I feel like Andrew should be included in family functions as my fiance, especially since he will always be once we are married, so it would be good he meet the rest of my family now. Plus, some of my dad's side already knows him, so if I just brought Lady, it would seem to them like I'm going behind Andrew's back or am not with him anymore, which would lead to drama and confusion. I want to bring Lady because he means just as much to me and is part of our family, and also because I know he will fit in with my family. I really feel like he is the sort of person they will welcome with open arms, because personality-wise, he would just mesh with them all so well. Plus, when eventually I do have children, we have discussed me having children with Lady first. That said, eventually my family would have to meet him, because I do not want them never knowing my kid's father. I know that this meeting might cause conflict, but better to get that out of the way now before children are involved and caught up in it.
That said, I am really kinda scared how they will react. I'm trying to figure out how to introduce people to my partners, how to explain the situation so that they will accept it, and how to deal with any negative reactions. I know my mother supports me bringing them both, although my father is a bit edgy. I think he is worried about being embarrassed by his 'less than normal' daughter, but at the same time, he hasn't objected and understands my reasons for doing this now. How would you suggest I act in this situation, especially with a good chance of people being shocked or having issue with my lifestyle? What would be the best way to approach this as to cause as little drama as possible? And how do you go about introducing both partners to people who likely never even heard of polyamory? I do feel its important my family knows those I'm nearest and dearest too, but I want to make this transition in the easiest way I can.
Thank you for any help.
It's amazing that you've been able to have conversations about this with both your parents and they sound so supportive. You've done awesome so far. :)
Not that I have much experience with this (tho I did once have a convo with my parents about raising a kid with my partner and her other partner... before that relationship ended) but here's a couple tidbits...
Sounds like there are way more variables than I could figure out how to prepare for. So maybe a few exit strategies planned and prepared, so that if things get really hard, you can get out, or take a break and let people digest.
Re-confirm with yourself and partners who gets to call an exit, and who's uncomfortableness matters, and how much. Ie. if your uncle gets all quiet and nose wrinkly... Is that something you can let go of there?
Well some thots at least. Likely some other smart ppl on here... My first day. ;)
Besides your mom and probably your dad, is there anyone else you could tell ahead of time to sort of get them in your corner? My biggest concern would be surprising a large group of people- there's no way I'd be able to answer all questions right then, and I'd be afraid the gossip and misunderstandings would just snowball. The more people who know, understand, and are supportive ahead of time, the fewer people you'll be surprising, and the more people you'll have to help with a lot of little talks to answer questions rather than one big fiasco.
Thanks so much for the advice, I really appreciate it. Mustardgreens, what kind of exit strategies do you mean? Any ideas would really help. Honestly, my partners aren't likely to be uncomfortable, as neither of them really cares what my extended family thinks. I care to an extent, though it really depends on which members of my family. The ones who know my fiance and we see for the holidays are the ones I'm closer to, and I want them to be alright with my lifestyle and happy for me. The rest, well, I don't actually care if they don't approve, but I don't want it to cause trouble. If they can keep their opinions to themselves then thats fine, if they try and exclude my family or cause trouble for my partners then thats a whole 'nother story.
I wish there were other memebers of my family I could talk to beforehand, but I don't usually keep in touch with them between family events, so I don't have any emails and phone numbers. Plus, the ones I'm closest to are the ones I'm the most nervous about. I just hope if I do what I usually do and act casual, blunt, and completely natural about all of this that no one will bat and eye.
Any other ideas?
Well I suppose "exit strategies" might make it seem smarter than it actually is. ;)
I mostly just mean having a few possible 'other things to do' at your ready if you need to get some breathing room. Take your partners for a walk of the old neighbourhood. Have an errand at a drugstore or something that you or some of you can go to, if need be. Maybe u might even need a code word of sorts to let your partners know u need to check out for a bit.
Depends on the gathering, but you might also try and get there much earlier and acclimatize people as they arrive and avoid a big surprise scenario like tgig mentioned. And maybe find ways to go off with people one on one.
First, I recommend no PDAs, of any kind. None.
This is a situation for Miss Manners, regardless of relationship status. This is a family reunion, not your coming out party. In social situations, it is our job to make other people comfortable. If you have news that has the potential to make other people uncomfortable, (and I'd say this could be close to the top of the list of thing that make people who've never heard of it uncomfortable) then that news is best delivered under some other context than the family reunion.
On the other hand, I see your point. Family reunion is for catching up. You want to tell them who you are.
"Whatcha been up to?" "Polyamory. This is my fiance, and this is my lover, who will probably be my first baby-daddy." Doesn't matter how you find to soften the words, that has huge potential for major discomfort.
I understand wanting people to know, I really get it. Both my men were previously my mono-boyfriend, and my parents knew them both. It wasn't a huge leap to say 'I'm with both of them now.'
But I did have similar situation. I changed my legal name (all three, and for the second time in my life) and my parents got very upset about it. They didn't want me to tell my siblings at Thanksgiving. I said I wasn't going to lie, so I'd just be skipping thanksgiving that year. Well, that wasn't good for them. So, I think (*I actually cannot recall now) that we worked out the compromise that I would tell them beforehand, so they would know, but the day would not be about me. Funny, I can remember the hurt about it, but can't remember how we worked it out. The turkey was great!
I understand you want acceptance, but you, sadly, don't get to dictate that. You can do your best to present it as a non-issue, and hope that people take it that way. But you know your family, you have a pretty good idea what people may or may not think about it.
Frankly, it's not their business who your baby-daddy is or isn't; and it's definitely not their business what you do in bed. Do you want to know what Aunt Lucy is doing in bed with Uncle Frank? I bet you'd rather not.
I, myself, wouldn't see it as a 'lie' to say, 'this is Lady, my dear friend' perhaps with emphasis on 'dear.' If you continue bringing both to gatherings, family will figure out you're all a team anyway.
It is a balance, and you have to weigh, how much do you need to show people who you are, versus how much acceptance to stay in your family do you need.
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